But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” NIV
Mary, the mother of Jesus has popped up pregnant before her wedding night. Joseph, the man to whom she is betrothed, knows that he is not the father of the child, and so his assumption is that the woman who is to be his wife has betrayed him. How devastating! Joseph must have suffered horribly from the time he got the news until the point when he was visited by the angel of the Lord.
Not only is he likely worried about what she’s done to their relationship, I think he must also be thinking, “What will other people think? What will my family think?”
The scripture says that he “did not want to expose her to public disgrace,” instead, he planned to quietly get out of the marriage.
The Message translates this verse, “While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: ‘Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant.'” MSG
The angel directs that Mary’s son should be called Jesus, and Joseph follows the angel’s instructions — all of them.
I heard a sermon last Christmas that put the next few months in a whole new light for me.
Joseph marries Mary … he trusts her and he trusts the guidance he has received from the angel.
But, together they must face the disapproval of his family. “What will other people think?” is a question that produces a good deal of worry, and in Joseph and Mary’s case, that worry was very real.
Last Christmas, the pastor pointed out the clues that are there in the story of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
In Luke 2, we are told that Caesar decrees that everyone needs to go back to their home town to be taxed … it was the first census. Mary boards a donkey and she and Joseph set off for Bethlehem. When they arrive, there is no room for them at the inn, but a kindly innkeeper offers them shelter in his barn, where Jesus is born.
Many times in my life, I’ve been thankful for the innkeeper. And, I’ve always loved the manger scene that is a special part of every Christmas pageant.
But this year, the pastor helped me see the story differently.
Everyone had to go to their own town to be taxed.
Every relative Joseph had must have been in Bethlehem. If all of your relatives were in one place, wouldn’t you have a party? Or, at least some sort of gathering? And, if two more showed up, even if all your beds were full, wouldn’t you offer them the couch or the at least the screen porch?
But, Joseph and Mary had no parties to attend … no relatives to stay with. Was this because of the wrath of his family?
One of our greatest sources of worry here on earth is how we are treated by others. God sent his son to redeem our sins … God is the final judge, not man. We are not called to judge each other, but to serve each other and to show God’s love to one another.
That’s what I’ll think about today.